UK – The Food Standards Agency (FSA), a UK-based regulatory body, has published the revised Food Law Code of Practice and Food Law Practice Guidance and introduced a Competency Framework in Wales, following consultation in December 2020.
The Code provides statutory guidance to local authorities (LAs) and port health authorities (PHAs) on the approach they should take to regulate food businesses.
The FSA has reviewed and revised the Code, taking into account the responses to the recent consultation, and ensuring that the Code reflects current priorities, policy, and legislative requirements so that delivery of official food control activities by LAs and PHAs remains effective, consistent, and proportionate.
In the new code, the qualification requirements have been modernized by extending the list of ‘suitable’ qualifications to enable LAs and PHAs, to fully recognize the potential of a wider cohort of environmental health and trading standards professionals, to undertake official food control activities as long as they can demonstrate they are competent.
“We recognize that local authorities and port health authorities need to target their skilled people where they are most needed, and we are committed to broad regulatory reform that assists in achieving this,” Nathan Barnhouse, Director of the Food Standards Agency in Wales said.
The revised Code, Practice Guidance and introduction of the Competency Framework will offer local authorities and port health authorities more flexibility to deploy key professionals and will enable them to recruit suitably qualified individuals to undertake specified activities, should they choose. This will help alleviate the challenges local authorities face in recruiting people to deliver their food service, whilst ensuring that consumers can continue to rely on food controls being carried out by suitably qualified people.
The existing competency requirements have also been substituted with the Competency Framework that defines competency by activity rather than by role.
Additionally, the code entails the requisite editorial revisions effectuated by the Official Controls Regulation (EU) 2017/625, which came into effect in December 2019, and EU exit implications
Moreover, the code comes in a reviewed structure and format to improve readability and promote consistency in the interpretation and implementation.
The FSA had earlier in March 2021 published revised Food Law Codes of Practice, Practice Guidance and introduced a Competency Framework for England and Northern Ireland.
Over the next few years there will be further reviews of the Code to implement the FSA’s modernization programme for reforming the regulatory delivery model. This will ensure a fit-for-purpose and sustainable regime that will protect consumers.